The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced the shutdown of vessel operations starting today, Thursday, February 12 (Lincoln’s Birthday), in addition to Saturday, Sunday, and Monday (Washington’s Birthday) to avoid paying longshoremen holiday or weekend pay for slow productivity that is crippling West Coast ports. While gate, rail, and yard operations will remain open per terminal operators’ discretion, it is expected that this closure will only add to the crippling congestions already facing West Coast terminals.  Employers have suspended vessel operations in the past month to clear backlogged cargo; however, motivation for this 4 day shutdown is intended to make a point.

PMA spokesman Wade Gates noted, “What they’re doing amounts to a strike with pay, and we will reduce the extent to which we pay premium rates for such a strike.”

This decision is one in a series of battles being played out in the media between the PMA and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) as they fight over contract terms.  Last week, the PMA released an “all-in” contract offer but was met with a new controversial demand that would permit PMA or ILWU to unilaterally remove arbitrators.  The PMA fears this would give unions the ability to fire arbitrators who do not decide in their favor and cause minor disputes to escalate to the degree we are experiencing on the West Coast today.

We will continue to closely monitor the situation and advise you of any important updates.